The past two years or more will have a dramatic short and long term impact on the automotive industry. Automakers without a diversified portfolio, such as trucks for this market, do not reach the broad income levels of some of their competitors and are willing to invest in ambitious projects such as electric battery vehicles and other alternative fuel projects. It also lacks the capital needed to fund it.
For automakers that rely heavily on sales in the US, which is currently the second largest new car market after China, and whose portfolio is heavily skewed between conventional cars and car-based crossovers, it is inevitable that It will be forced to partner with other larger markets. An automaker that may or may not have once been a major rival if you intend to forge a path forward.
Subaru is working with Toyota. Honda is partnering with GM on BEV. Mazda also shares technology with Toyota. Shortages of computer chips, supply problems, and the dizzying number of new sources needed to make electric vehicle batteries have forced some brands into a long hiatus. His list of failed BEV startups this year is already nearly a dozen. I suspect the more familiar car company names will soon give in to the harsh realities of power conversion expected in the industry.
How does this fit into this week’s Mazda 3 hatchback? The pool of eligible compact cars available to U.S. drivers shrinks each year, but the Corolla, Civic, Elantra, Sentra, Impreza, Jetta and Forte , is one of Mazda’s remaining rivals. A segment of interior design closer to Audi than its contemporaries. Beautifully finished with the textures and details that Germans love, the Mazda feels and looks just as good.
With three powertrains — two versions of a 2.5-liter engine, plus base power from a 2.0-liter motor, six-speed manual or automatic transmission, front or optional ($1,400) AWD — Mazda has several trims can be equipped with Ranging from $22,215 to the $35,810 Premium Plus Hatchback list, it caters for a range of budgets.
What is missing? Ah, the alternate power supply tip. There is no hybrid model and no BEV version of the 3. Given the slowdown in car sales, the period, and the eager efforts of buyers to purchase five-door crossovers, many of them have some sort of battery power. A capable five-door is admirable, but it seems to lag behind trends. This is supported by Mazda’s emphasis that in the coming months he will add CX-50, CX-70 and CX-90 crossovers.
3 is a strong performer. His 2.5-liter turbomotor with 227 horsepower has a refined, articulate, and very linear performance distribution. Thrust is immediate rather than dramatic, as the turbo motor’s torque rating (310 lbs/ft) makes efficient and quick driving a subtle strength of this little car. The EPA rates the 3 at 23/31 mpg, and the actual mileage is 1 mpg higher on his AWD sampler, so fuel economy isn’t sacrificed too badly either. 3 other models have EPA figures of 28/36 mpg.
This sophisticated presentation reflects the German trend for automotive performance, underpinned by a chassis that is fit, controllable and comfortable. Steering and braking feel are beyond acceptable levels of general indifference, giving the Mazda driver little of the “zoom-zoom” personality the brand likes to boast.
The hatchback promises more space, but the 3 sedan actually has more room for people. The curvy hatchback body has thick roof pillars everywhere, which obstructs visibility from the outside even more than the sedan, so visibility is greatly improved even in the sedan. A shorter five-door hatch, the VW Golf feels entirely like a convertible compared to the comfort of a three-hatchback.
Improved clarity of information screens for Mazda. However, the noisy console controller on the central information/entertainment screen is too distracting for simple inputs. It’s also good for the vehicle to retain your driving choices from start to finish, such as heated seats, heated steering wheel, and disabling lane keeping. Re-manipulating the controls on every start becomes an unnecessary annoyance.
The Mazda 3 has carved out a very specific niche in the compact car segment. It has the look and feel to run and boot like a more expensive German car. As markets scramble for alternatives, will enough buyers embrace such a sensible mode of transportation?
Tim Plouff has been reviewing cars for over 20 years.